The chief warden’s headquarters was located in the most mysterious part of Winterdraw. There were many formations and restrictions around it, forbidding any strangers from entering.
Anyone who approached would trigger all the traps. Even if they were fortunate enough to evade one, the same wouldn’t be true for the ensuing ones.
Moreover, the formations were reinforced by many guards that the chief warden had personally trained. They were masters of concealment, assassination, and assault. Unless one had an overwhelming advantage in strength, it was suicide to venture in unprepared.
The chief warden’s men and many subordinates were all gathered within the headquarter’s grand hall, awaiting their leader’s orders.
The chief himself wasn't a large man, but his eyes were uncommonly sharp. A single look from him seemed it could flay open a man’s soul; it was virtually impossible to hide any thoughts from him.
Behind the chief were four deathsworn. They were evidently his personal guard. They gave off a wraithlike impression, even though they were standing still. His subordinates sat to the chief warden’s sides, separated neatly down the middle.
“Shen Zhi, you’re responsible for liaising with the imperial family. Is there anything specific from them? When will the honored guests descend upon the Rejuvenation Isles? When will they come to Winterdraw?”
The chief warden’s eyes lay on an advisor to the left. He was an important subordinate, named Shen Zhi.
The advisor wore a wispy beard and a rather clean face. He quite looked the part of a strategist.
“Chief Warden, the imperial family’s latest news is that the honored guests have already started arriving in the Rejuvenation Isles. Our own royalty will welcome them with a banquet, but there’s no accurate word yet as to when specifically they’re coming. The honored guests’ itineraries can’t be swayed even by the imperial family. It’s entirely up to them.”
Zhen Shi then added something extra. “However, the imperial family did give a concrete answer that the guests will absolutely visit Winterdraw. It seems they have a great deal of interest in the island, a fact that the imperial family have taken note of. I hope that Winterdraw will sufficiently satisfy our guests’ appetites.”
The chief warden became serious. “I’m sure everyone has heard that this reception means a great deal for the entirety of the Rejuvenation Isles. In Myriad Abyss Island, we’ve never been considered a remotely major player. Second to third-rate at the best of times.
“This time, the imperial family has gone to great pains and spent many favors to invite aristocratic scions of the major factions. If we can satisfy them, only then will they be able to put a good word in for the Isles. Perhaps then the Rejuvenation Isles may slowly creep into Myriad Abyss’s mainstream! Perhaps then we will be accepted!”
All of the assembled nodded.
It was obvious that everyone knew the difficulty of inviting the guests. This was an opportunity for Winterdraw as well. If they could handle the reception well, the imperial family would richly reward everyone involved.
“No need to keep be so on edge. Everything is going according to plan. As long as we execute according to what we’ve planned, nothing will go wrong.” The chief warden glanced toward a man on the right. “Zong Han, how are the factions progressing?”
Zong Han was a middle-aged cultivator. His eyes were keen, honed by the finesse of experience.
He raised a cupped fist salute at the chief warden’s question. “Sir, all the factions are working hard to select geniuses according to your command. I’ve sent messengers to remind them a couple times. They won’t dare slack on the job. According to the return messages, the factions really are doing all they can.”
The chief warden nodded with some satisfaction. “These guys need a different kind of persuasion.”
There was suddenly news from outside the door.
Zong Hang picked up one of the reports, unfurling it and exclaiming with joy, “Chief warden, sir! Sin City has finished the selection with pretty amazing results, several superb geniuses among them. There are some excellent seeds brimming with the hint of empyrean aura and strength despite being great emperors. Rare! Very rare! Here is the more detailed report.”
The chief warden took it with a smile, perusing it in great detail. “Very good, very good. Xie Wushang is very capable. He can do an amazingly good job if he puts his mind to it.”
The chief warden was noticeably very pleased.
“Have Xie Wushang keep a close eye on those geniuses. Don’t allow them to leave Sin City for the next while. They should be prepared to receive a summons at any moment.”
Zong Han smiled. “I’ve already hinted to him about this kind of conclusion. Xie Wushang won’t be ignorant about the issue.”
“Indeed. He’s done well enough. Have Nefarious Vale and Terminus Place finished their selections as well?” the chief warden inquired coolly.
“We sent people to urge them to pick up the pace last time. Things should be done in a few more days.
After getting Sin City’s dignitary medallion, Jiang Chen found the biggest benefit to be free rein in the city lord’s residence. Aside from the most secure parts, everywhere else was open to him.
He’d had no intention of venturing into the most core parts in the first place. Rather than going out, he was entirely devoted to the residence’s library.
Though Winterdraw was a barbaric place, it wasn’t entirely devoid of civilization. Large factions like Sin City especially, had their own libraries.
Sin City’s library was very large and well-stocked, and Jiang Chen perfectly at home in such an environment. After entering the city lord’s residence, he spent almost the entirety of his time in the library.
He had little interest in martial dao books. Instead, he was interested in any books that was even tangentially related to the island. Its history, culture, rumors, and secrets… all these were of far more import to him.
After several days’ time spent on these things, he had collected an extremely valuable trove of information. He now possessed a mental map of the island and understood its general structure.
“Tsk, tsk. Winterdraw occupies a lot of space. It’s a small island, but it has so many dangers! The restrictions on the island’s shores aside, it is quite challenging to make it from the heart of the island to the outskirts. I wonder how many dangers there are along the way.”
The more he understood about the island, the more Jiang Chen had to remark about it.
“I must understand Winterdraw better if I am to leave. If I blunder about aimlessly, perhaps I’ll die in a painful way one day soon.
“There are three important factions on Winterdraw, as well as an abundance of second and third-rate factions. However, they’re all pawns in the end. The chief warden and the ones from the Rejuvenation Isles are the real ones in charge of the fate of the island.
“Winterdraw has five major danger zones. Hmm… as long as I want to get the outer parts, I’ll have to pass through one of them. And even if I do reach the outskirts, many formations and restrictions exist to alert the chief warden and his cronies. Plus, some other formations will detonate themselves in the process. It seems to be a very tough course to chart.
“And then we’d need special flying treasures or boats designed to get over water. There are even more beasts hidden in the water. To get out by swimming is to basically to commit suicide.”
Given the circumstances on the island, it was exceedingly difficult to leave. He summed up three major requirements:
One, successfully braving at least one of the five danger zones to reach the border;
Two, breaking through the formation restriction around the border; and
Three, possessing a treasure that could fly through spatial turbulence or an extraordinary boat specifically for marine travel. Swimming wasn’t really an option because of the manifold lethal beasts in the water.
A few dozen miles would be manageable if one swam, but the waters were dangerous for thousands of miles on end. There were no obstacles if one flew, but the spatial turbulence introduced a whole new variable into the equation. It would take more than three days to pass through a fraction of these difficult conditions.
Though an incredibly hard prospect, Jiang Chen didn’t give up. At least things were much better than before and he knew a bit about the island.
“According to records, there’ve been a few escapees from Winterdraw. Though the men who have escaped can be counted on one hand, they were still successful. If there were a lucky few earlier, why can’t I be the next one?”
The records contained many secrets of Winterdraw. In fact, they recorded the revolutions and riots that had occurred. Because those imprisoned on the island had lost their freedom and all hope, cultivators here had majorly rioted several times in the past.
But every riot had failed in the end. The chief warden had harshly quashed every single one. Each riot led to the deaths of millions of cultivators. The most serious occasion saw the slaughter of a full six million.
It was evident from this that the chief warden could tolerate all malice and sin here except rebellion and escape. Any who wished to rebel against the wardens were met with crushing reprisal and incredible retaliation.
Jiang Chen mulled things over to himself. He still decided that he needed to try his best at fleeing the island, no matter how much abuse he would potentially receive. He didn’t have too much time to waste here on Winterdraw. Neither Huang’er nor Veluriyam Capital could afford it!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sin City hurr. I love all the other novel cameos in SOTR.